Bureau of Indian Affairs' Progress in Providing Special Education Services to Indian Children

CED-79-121: Published: Sep 4, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 4, 1979.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 provided for the identification and assessment of handicapping conditions in children. The identification of the number of handicapped students, their location, and their handicapping conditions are vital first steps in providing special education services. A review was made to determine the progress made by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in its elementary and secondary schools to: (1) provide free and appropriate public education to all handicapped children between the ages of 3 and 18 not later than September 1, 1978, and (2) hire 202 special education teachers and specialists provided for by appropriations of an additional $5 million in fiscal year 1979.

Review at the Navajo and Phoenix area schools showed that some progress had been made under the requirements of the Act, but not all handicapped children were being served. Nineteen schools were visited with a total of 883 handicapped children, and it was found that 38 percent of the children were receiving full special education services, 13 percent were receiving partial services, and 49 percent were receiving no services. The Bureau was slow to comply with the mandate of the Act because of poor leadership and a lack of emphasis placed on the program. The following problems were noted: a late start on student assessments, limited efforts to hire special education personnel, and the expenditure of funds for purposes other than hiring teachers.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: It is recommended that the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations should restrict the Bureau's fiscal year 1980 special education funds to hiring special education teachers and specialists. The committees should not allow the Bureau to use these funds for other purposes without congressional approval.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to: (1) determine the number of special education personnel needed by each location and develop a plan to hire those personnel at the earliest possible date; and (2) develop policies, guidelines, and realistic goals to meet the mandate of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, for the delivery of special education services to all handicapped children in Bureau-operated schools.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Feb 22, 2018

Feb 7, 2018

Jan 23, 2018

Dec 18, 2017

Nov 30, 2017

Sep 20, 2017

Sep 14, 2017

Sep 13, 2017

Jul 18, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here